After a few weeks of waiting, the highly anticipated matchup of German rivals is set to commence on Saturday in London.
Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are already rivals in Bundesliga play in their native country, but that rivalry will reach its boiling point on Saturday night, as the two German clubs square off for the 2013 UEFA Champions League title.
Bayern and Dortmund have faced each other four times this season, with the Bundesliga champs winning two and the other two matches ending in draws.
The two German clubs managed to defeat Real Madrid and Barcelona en route to the Champions League final, with Bayern dominating a Lionel Messi-less Barca and the Borussians hanging on for a 4-3 aggregate victory over Madrid.
The title will now be decided in London's Wembley Stadium. As Fox Sports posted on Twitter, the stadium is already rocking and ready for the German invasion of fans, of sorts, that has already descended to watch these two clubs battle it out.
FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer
Are you ready? We are! The Champions League Final is live at 2 PM on FOX! http://t.co/34XcTSuIEA #galaxys45/25/2013, 2:12:45 PM
With the match right around the corner, we've got you covered with a last-minute preview, complete with each team's projected lineups and some top storylines to follow during this all-German final.
Where: Wembley Stadium in London, England
When: Saturday, May 25 at 2:45 p.m. ET
Watch: Fox and Fox Deportes
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
|BAYERN MUNICH||BORUSSIA DORTMUND|
|G||Manuel Neuer||G||Roman Weidenfeller (c)|
|D||Philipp Lahm (c)||D||Lukasz Piszczek|
|D||Jerome Boateng||D||Neven Subotic|
|D||David Alaba||D||Marcel Schmelzer|
|M||Bastian Schweinsteiger||M||Sven Bender|
|M||Javi Martinez||M||Ilkay Gundogan|
|M||Arjen Robben||M||Jakub Blaszczykowski|
|M||Thomas Mueller||M||Marco Reus|
|M||Franck Ribery||M||Kevin Grosskreutz|
|F||Mario Mandzukic||F||Robert Lewandowski|
|Coach||Jupp Heynckes||Coach||Juergen Klopp|
Toni Kroos, OUT
Holger Badstuber, OUT
Mario Gotze, OUT
In addition to not dropping a match against Borussia Dortmund this season, Bayern has been victorious in each of its last 14 matches—the one exception being a draw to Dortmund on May 4 that helped provide a window to how tense this match could be.
With only a valid argument to be made for a handful of other Premier League and La Liga teams, Bayern has been the best team in Europe this year—the Champions League legs have helped prove that assertion to be right on target.
On a historical level, Bayern has also dominated the group and elimination stages of Champions League play.
This will be Bayern's third appearance in the last four years in the Champions League final, and they have been unable to finish the job in the match after losing to Inter Milan in 2010 and Chelsea in last year's thrilling CL finish.
With experience, a revenge-factor of sorts and the four previous matches between these two teams during the 2012-13 calendar season, Bayern figure to have all the momentum heading into this mother of all European finals.
Mario Gotze has proven himself as one of the biggest rising stars in Europe this season, scoring 20 goals in 43 games (all competitions) this season. As fans descend on Wembley Stadium, they'll notice that Gotze won't be in action for this Champions League final:
BBC Sport @BBCSport
Borussia Dortmund's Mario Gotze to miss Champions League final against his future employers Bayern Munich http://t.co/vtJGsHsdL75/22/2013, 3:09:50 PM
He's also joining up with the team on the other side of the field next season.
Expected to join Bayern when the 2013-14 season commences, Gotze would have already been in a weird place if he was on the pitch for this match. He won't be, though, and Borussia Dortmund will have their hands full in replacing his production.
As noted by OptaFranz, he's not an easy player to replace for a match of this magnitude:
7 - Mario Götze was directly involved in 7 goals in his last 7 appearances in the CL (2 goals, 5 assists). Missing. #bvbfcb #uclfinal5/25/2013, 4:44:04 PM
However, Dortmund is a pesky squad who has no problem playing the underdog role in any given match. Additionally, Robert Lewandowski and Marco Reus are fine players, capable of playing a solid match to force the ball on the attack.
Will Dortmund crumble without Gotze, or rise to the occasion and prove his absence won't be that noticeable next season? It's one of the big questions of the match.
Like many rivalries in professional sports (Ohio State-Michigan, New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics-Los Angeles Lakers), you throw previous records out the window when the game commences.
Prepare to do the same for this match.
Bayern had the upper hand on Dortmund for most of the season—both home and away matches ended in a 1-1 draw in Bundesliga play—but Dortmund won the previous two Bundesliga finals before this year's Bayern triumph.
Prepare for the fireworks to commence both on and off the field in this matchup of bitter rivals. As most Champions League finals are, expect this one to resonate in your soccer memories for years to come.
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